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Boston’s Pit Bull Ordinance Overridden By State

A pit bull puppy. (Funkybeatz/Flickr)

A pit bull puppy. (Funkybeatz/Flickr)

Earlier this month, Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that amends the Animal Control Act. The new bill covers multiple animal issues, but it also strikes down any breed-specific legislation that cities or towns may have in place. Section 31 of the bill states:

No order shall be issued directing that a dog deemed dangerous be removed from the town or city in which the owner of such dog resides. No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.

That would nullify Boston’s Ordinance Regarding Responsible Pit Bull Ownership, which has been in effect since 2004.

“The state house wiped us out,” City Councillor Rob Consalvo told us. Consalvo authored the original ordinance and joined Radio Boston to talk about how invalidating the city ordinance will rob enforcement of a tool he says helps ensure public safety.

Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, disagreed. The MSPCA says breed-specific laws are not effective and there are other alternatives that foster responsible dog ownership.



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  • Duh

    It’s a DOG…not a person

    • http://www.facebook.com/marty.abelon Marty Abelon

      Like yourself Duh.

    • DevilOnYourShoulder

      WTF is wrong with your brain?  Perhaps you are a gerbil…

  • BN

    first world problem…

  • Leslie Crawford75

    I would like to hear from a veteranarian and/or dog behavior expert to hear an expert view on breed behavior. In my experience as a dog owner and lover (I have a rescued mixed breed), I have never met a pit bull who was not a great dog. The issue is inept, negligent and irresponsible dog owners who are attracted to powerful breeds for the wrong reasons. Like many behavior problems, it’s a symptom of poor training, not the reason to discriminate against a breed.  

    • Gwen Lebec

      How would you require that all pit type dogs or all dogs receive good training and good care?  Come up with an answer.   Solve the public safety problem.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/LLPU4MRIPAK3AGYDI3FSQ4XU4A Joshua

        The same as we’d require ALL dogs receive the same. You moron.

      • Junkfilez

         Aren’t you the self righteous bitch?  I’m yet to see some epidemic of dog bites emanating from pitbulls.  There IS NO public safety problem.  There is worse problems with bicycles for goodness sakes.

      • Botched Lobotomy

        The only public safety problem is in your narrow mind.

  • Norfolkk9

     As an animal control officer  in MA for 17 years I hold a perspective that all dogs needs to be treated equally in regards to enforcement.  Some of the worst bites we’ve had in my jurisdiction are  from those that are not what  is classified as a pitbull.   However,  when there is an altercation or a close altercation,  everyone calls it in as a pitbull.  There are too many breeds that people perceive as pits but are actually completely other breeds.  All dogs can bite, and many dogs with extreme severity. In Massachusetts historical law,  MA did  have a breed specific ban on blood hounds.  MGL Chap 340 in 1886.  A few years later is started to crumble (MGL ch 50 in 1892) by excluding some bloodhounds, and then the law was eventually taken off the books.  It wasn’t removed because they had eradicated bloodhounds but because it was ineffective     From someone who enforces  animal laws, how on earth are we supposed to know what is genetically a pit bull? Are we to DNA test every dog that has a blocky head,  broad shoulders, and proud stance?    Treat each incident  equally.  The new dangerous dog law has a good set of teeth on it and should help for public safety.  Keep the owners responsible for their dog’s behavior. And owners need to understand the type of dog they have and what their predisposition is and socialize and train that animal to be good canine members of society.  If they cannot, then they will be dealt with through the law.   Go look at http://www.pickthepit.com and see how many can have a similar look to what some may think is a pitbull.  And another question of thought: If we have breed specific legislation, and that does curb dog bites of that specific breed, then are they going to move on to the next profiled breed?  They may then be targeted and  have laws against them as well.  It could lead to other dogs being sought out, ending up in muzzles, not welcome in towns, etc.   If you own a dog that has a high propensity  to act in ways that could be dangerous it is your job to train your dog appropriately and have them behave appropriately. We also need to make sure that when incidents happen, animal control officers  step in and enforce laws to protect public safety. We may not get the popular vote for enforcement, especially if we have to remove your dog in some instances, but  it’s one of the many roles we are supposed to be participating in to protect the public’s safety.  This new law will help not only our side of enforcement but also streamline the hearing process through towns and cities, and eventually through court  (if it goes that far).  For more information on the full law you can google  the bill number 2192 to see all the changes.  There are a lot of changes to the current laws that will benefit the public, the animals, and officers who get involved. 

    • Gwen Lebec

      I am going to bet that few, if any, were by Golden Retrievers or their mixes.  I also bet that your opinion is skewed by having had some great experiences with pits.  They can be great dogs. But the public is entitled to be protected from these frequent maulings.  Come up with a real solution and then pit bulls will not be picked on.  But as long as these maulings keep occuring, pits will still be a public concern.  It is not enough to seize the dog after someone is hurt. The job – your job – is to prevent them from being hurt in the first place.  If you cared about these dogs you would want to reduce the breeding of them, and restrict them to qualified owners.  

      • Hotboo

        Hi Gwen – if you check back to the late 1990′s/early 2000′s, through the AMA statistics; you’ll find that golden retrievers were the top breed for bites severe enough to send victims to the hospital. How can we restrict any breed from being sold to any person? As a vet tech (think nurse for animals) for 24 years, I’ve seen many, many biting animals (and have my only scar from a chihuahua) – all animals will bite (by the way, that includes people!) under the correct circumstances. The solution lies in education to all the public to look out for and NOT ACCEPT, NOR INGNORE dog fighting. Done for status, and to bring in large amounts of money, it’s the social normal in many circles. Should you think education is not the correct solution – just look at how quickly the public seems to have forgotten what Michael Vick did time for? Do you know that many of his fighting and bait dogs have gone on to do animal assisted therapy? Perhaps we should put the people down that have fighting dogs, make them wear muzzles in public, etc. It may help to point out and deal with the true cause of the problem…

      • Norfolkk9

        Within the last two years I have had to pull a golden retriever from a house for eminent attack, and a maltese  (named princess and gave a whopping 40+ bite wounds)and a few other dogs. Nothing that fits in the “pit bull” definition of the law.  A border collie,  a lab mix, etc. Do I have a soft spot for pits? Not really. I keep my feeling neutral on the job. Do I own  a pit? no.  I’m a horse person.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/LLPU4MRIPAK3AGYDI3FSQ4XU4A Joshua

        The only dog I was EVER bitten by was my own 12o lb Golden Retriever who I was pulling off my 95 lb Rottweiler after an unprovoked attack…the Golden turned on me and bit me in the face….both rescues, by the way. Educate yourself. I have the scar through my bottom lip to prove it. And my current black-and-white pit bull is sleeping by my feet right now. He’s never bitten or attacked anyone. Neither have the previous Rotties and Shepherd mixes I’ve owned. Only that giant Golden. It’s not the breed, you moron.

        I also volunteer for the AZ Humane Society. Our two most popular/common breeds are pits and Chihuahuas. Guess which one bites more volunteers?

      • Melissa

        The golden retriever I had growing up bit a friend because she startled him while he was sleeping.

        The pit bull I own now is all love.Wow, what kind of responses did you expect from such a statement?

  • Emsolomon1

    So glad to have heard this show…you do a wonderful service.  I really was happy to hear you talking about BSL and how there are so many other alternative!  Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/vivienne.woodhead Vivienne Woodhead

    There is an alternative to breed specific legislation: seize the dog (if it survives the police action) and put it in a rescue sanctuary. Find the owner and apply a very large fine. Insist on finding the breeder and shut them down. It is the breeder and owner who are responsible for an aggressive, dangerous dog. It is the money involved in gambling on illegal dog fights that causes owners and breeders to produce dangerous dogs. The money comes from criminal gamblers. Take their money and that will probably help. Don’t blame the dog. A dog cannot commit a crime. The dog can be a weapon in the hands of its owner. The police know this. They train dogs to be aggressive, too.

    • Gwen Lebec

      This means that every pit bull is entitled to maul and/or kill one person.  The pit bull issue will not go away until someone, somewhere solves the frequency and severity of these attacks.  Come up with a solution, don’t just keep insisting there isn’t a problem.

      • LWiid

        What kind on nonsense statement is that?  No, not every Pit Bull is entitled to maul or kill one person, nor is any animal “entitled” to kill or maul.  I have three Pit Bulls, two of which were rescued from extreme abuse- one had cigarette burns up and down her back and was rescued as a pregnant 10 month old puppy- the other was a bait dog.  He was left for dead when the idiots who were running the dog fighting ring packed up and left in the middle of the night.  He was found catatonic with severe damage to his knee which cost a $4000 surgery.. they immediately put him on the kill list because of his condition but a volunteer stepped in and “brought him back to life”.  He now lives a happy life with me and my other two Pit Bulls.  What every Pit Bull (and every other dog) is entitled to is compassion, training, and love from the people who own them.  I’m not sure where your fear of this breed generates from; the media, ignorance, or experience, but try spending some time around this breed before you condemn it.  I’ve been bit by more dogs than I care to state since my line of work takes me in peoples back yards when they aren’t home and their dogs are free to roam.  Not once have I been bitten by a Pit Bull.  Any responsible dog owner will tell you that a person aggressive dog needs to have some extensive training, and if the aggression can not be over come than precautions need to be in place so that dog does not have the opportunity to attack… or be put down.  I feel really sad for your you.  Someone has put ideas into your head that are simply wrong.  Unfortunately, if you were bitten by a dog that you could not readily identify (and potentially if you could) you sound (based on your statements) that you would scream Pit Bull just to see how much attention you could get.  The majority of owners with this breed are responsible, some are not.  Just like people and “race”, there are some bad apples and you can find them if you are intent on doing so… Give me a race of people, and I can find more good than bad, and give me a breed of dog and I can find more good than bad.  Even you Ms. Lebec are likely a good person regardless of how people may profile  you based on your behavior (similar to how you profile a breed).  I challenge you to find a Pit Bull rescue in your community and spend a half hour there- see if you can prove your point about the dangers of this breed or not… my guess is if you are honest with yourself after you leave the rescue than there is not way you could.  Take a chance, give it a try.

    • http://twitter.com/Yotie72 David O***

      Yes, there are some really good animal hoarder— err, no kill sanctuaries out there. Might I suggest the pit bull sanctuary Spindletop?

  • Gwen Lebec

    If I were the victim of a pit bull attack in Massachusetts after this, I would sue the state for millions for deliberately and knowingly placing me in danger.  I hope those legal cases emerge.

    • snowbird04

      You are such a troll. I has seen you on articles regarding pit bulls nationally, spreading you hatred and fear mongering. You are the very reason bad guys want pit bulls, as they want the feared dog of the time. The next pit bull victim should sue you, for making those dogs desirable to irresponsible owners. There are much better ways in controlling animals, and you ignore all of them, because you can care less for victims. You are are incapable off seeing that BSL doesn’t prevent severe attacks, and pissed because Massachusetts made a better rule. What is also going to come out of this, is that the state is going to regulate breeding and give harsher penalties to bad owners. 

    • A.Burke

      Gosh Gwen, wouldn’t it be so much better to invest your considerable energies into a positive solution rather than feeding the uniformed frenzy?

      These types of hateful and persistant posts don’t serve any good whatsoever.  BSL clearly doesn’t work. It was put in place to placate people like you and resulted in lots of good dogs being euthanized. That’s the legacy you can lay claim to.

      I agree with one of the other people responding to you – go work in a shelter, actually interact with the Pit Bull population and I guarantee you’ll be a convert. They are the most loving breed imagineable. Then invest your energy and writing skills toward a positive end. 

      Noteworthy, I actually DO agree with the point that it is the owners absolute responsibilty to make sure nobody gets hurt. I think Pit Bull breeding should be controlled. I’d love to see legislation that charges $100 for any medium/large dog breed – Pit Bulls included $50 waived for 12 weeks training course, $40 waived for CGC.  I think that would serve not only the general public well, but also the Pit Bull. 

      Business as usual doesn’t help the breed at all, millions are euthanized each year and it is just horribly tragic.

      • A.Burke

        * instead of legislation I meant to say $100 for the license!

      • http://twitter.com/Yotie72 David O***

        BSL clearly doesn’t work? Someone tell that to Denver. Breed bans have dramatically reduced attacks in Denver. If Product X is causing a lot of injurys and you take Product X off the market or regulate who can buy it, Product X is not going to kill or maim as many people. This isn’t even science, it’s more like 5th grade math.

        • Liz

          I want PROOF of your supposed “facts.” There has NOT been a significant reduction of dog bites in Denver, or Canada. Why do you think BSL has been overturned in many places? It doesn’t work. If this is “5th grade math,” then you need to show your work.

        • Botched Lobotomy

          I bet you’re in favor of smaller government, though, aren’t you?

    • guest

       Don’t feed the trolls. They’ll just come back and bite you. :)

    • Bos

      You need to do some serious research on Breed Specific Legislation before you make such a ignorant statement. I thought Pit Bulls were dangerous too but they are no more dangerous than any other dog. Dogs are a reflection of their owners and how they are treated. Punish the owners not the dogs.

      • http://twitter.com/Yotie72 David O***

        No more dangerous than any other dog? You’re part of the problem. I’d WAY rather have a corgi charging at me as if to attack than a pit bull. In fact, I think I’d rather have a bear charging at me than a pit bull.

        Sorry, basic scientific stats don’t support your claim pit bulls are no more dangerous than other dogs. Though, when presented with hard evidence of such, most pit nuts just shrug and claim there’s no such breed, or that the media (Wtf!?) is behind the attacks.

    • Fraancis

      yeah afer writing this ,i bet your case will be seen !!! hahah

    • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

      Gwen, if you are attacked by a pit bull or any other breed of dog, you would be well within your legal rights to sue the OWNER. However, it is NOT the Government’s place to institutional discrimination against this particular breed because of how they are perceived.

      Also, allowing pit owners the same rights as other (in fact of EVERY OTHER) breed’s owners is called equality, and is not “knowingly placing [you] in danger.” However if a pit owner, neglects or abuses his dog AND creates an opportunity of his doog to harm you (or anyone for that matter), then one might argue that the owner has knowing placed you in danger.

    • JUNESBUG15

      Umm, what if you become the victim of a lab attack?…they happen…a victim of a cocker spaniel bite?…they happen….Jesus

    • trish

      gwen if your were attacked by anyother breed of dog would you the sue the goverment for not make dog laws against that breed oly this morning i read a story of a tiny girl mauled by a labrador

    • C-Doll

      Gwen, you suck…just another ignorant person. I rather a pit bull than a Chihuahua. Yes, size does intimidate but many small dogs are extremely dangerous and often bite, they are just not reported. But I have so much exposure to pits and they are absolute sweethearts. They need love and proper discipline to grow as good dogs, just like any dog. If someone is going to get a pitbull, they need to get proper education as well. But I’ll defend pits all the way!! And when the news reports a bite, they don’t say that a kid or a person was throwing rocks at the dog or hitting. Many dogs act in self defense…but yea…lets bring this court! GO PITS!!!!

  • Guest

    Gwen, you seem to be off your fruit loops or scared from some exposure. Sorry for you.

    Hotboo, you said it best. Yes, Pits can be awesome dogs as I know from rescuing one 13 years ago from a Pitbull fighting group in CA. I picked up a little one and put it in my truck and just gave everyone a “look” that said, I am keeping this one! I am so glad that I did and it’s been one of the best dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of blessing my life. Not much more can be said about my little “Piglet.” Great Dog!

    Bottomline, Gwen, et al that believe that it’s the dog, it’s not: it’s the OWNER that is to blame. Put the bad dog owner’s in jail and see how long the dog keeps taking the blame.

  • http://twitter.com/hj351 Barbara

    Instead of legislating the breed, legislate the backyard breeders who are only in it for a buck and know nothing about breeding. 

    • http://twitter.com/Yotie72 David O***

      That’s racist and discriminates against people who are not educated.

      • Josanew

        Racist?  Please….

      • Botched Lobotomy

        If you aren’t educated on dog breeds, their health and behavioral problems, and how to spot potentially problem owners, then you have no business breeding and selling dogs — regardless of your race, sex, orientation, religion, OR level of education.

  • K32t3b

    We need to look at all dog bites.  But the problem is we can’t.  All small dog bites do not get reported.  Most of my family has bitten by my sister’s rescue small chihuahua.  However no has reported these small but bloody bites.  Pitbulls were bread to kill bulls.  Their jaw is very strong, if they need too.  Most pitbulls are love, they were known as the nanny dog.  If all dog bites were reported, then we would a not so high percentage of bites by these amazing dogs.

  • John B

    I have have a pitbull rhodesian mix and she is a very sweet dog and wonderful with children and people and most other dogs.  I have had dogs my entire life and I have small breed dogs that were biters and very difficult to train.  Dogs are a lot similar to children in that most times their actions reflect the level of training and discipline their owners / parents provide to them.  

  • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

    I recently have been given a stunted (mini) pit who is absolutely adorable, but very rambunctious, but I was so saddened to see the extreme measures I had to take in order to properly register and house him here in Boston. Not only were the fees much higher to license a pit, but owners had to
    muzzle, neuter, and register their dogs with a “Dog Officer” EVERY
    YEAR… I seriously considered relocating to Cambridge (where I work) or Somerville.

    I was very confused by how that was creating an incentive for responsible dog ownership.

    It seems to me that most people would just not bother to do all
    that, which means they’d either choose a different breed, or if they
    already had a pit, abandon it. I am not endorsing that behavior
    – I chose to simply consider taking my tax dollars elsewhere. Luckily,
    this has all been resolved. I am so thrilled that Gov. Patrick has banned breed specific regulations.

    My solution: Instead creating new titles like “Dog Officer” for pit bulls specifically, why not create a responsible dog owner seminar. There are so many resources such as Facebook, Meetup, etc, that can be used to educate dog owners on properly raising healthy, happy, non-aggressive dogs.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/LFMLPF3WRNC33QLRGWBNZ7HXDE ARNO

    This is very good news. All BSL has shown not to work and only puts a breed in the underground where more nefarious folks can charge even more for the banned breed. This has already happened in the U.K. Hope Denver and some other cities pay close attention to this!

  • Syndes2

    Finally some common sense is prevailing!!  

  • caroline

    thank god someone has seen sense, maybe hopefully we will have the same thing happen here in Australia.

  • guest

    Thank you!!

  • morganmime


  • Simbayoung

    It is the owners and NOT the dog or PET for that matter AND  the people who may approach them that are at fault.animals often act out of instinct as well..PEOPLE -children are the problem not the animal..
    I know people who have a pit and absolutely adore them -so,so sweet and loving.

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